FCC chairman Tom Wheeler warns net neutrality laws will face ISP lawsuits

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler has reportedly warned that establishing new net neutrality laws will take longer due to a wave of anticipated law suits from internet service providers (ISPs).

His comments follow US president Barack Obama’s open call for ISPs to be regulated more like public utilities, and for new net neutrality laws to be established to prevent them from prioritising higher-paying traffic.

Obama has urged the FCC to create a new set of rules to help protect net neutrality and ensure that neither cable companies nor phone companies can act as "gatekeepers" to the internet.

The FCC has now postponed the vote on net neutrality until 2015 and Wheeler has suggested that the reason for its delay is due to the fact it must reevaluate any proposals to make sure they stand up in court, according to reports.

Wheeler told US reporters: "Let's make sure that we understand what is going on here. The big dogs are going to sue regardless of what comes out."

"We need to make sure that we have sustainable rules, and that starts with making sure that we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that come along and are likely to be raised," he added.

Earlier this week UK government digital advisor and chair of Tech City UK Joanna Shields openly backed Obama’s stance, saying that the issue of neutrality is a troubling topic, and that if it goes “the wrong way” in the US it could be a major competitive advantage for Europe.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.